It may still be early doors, but the new Wabash volleyball season has shown moments that should excite both volleyball enthusiasts and casual athletics fans alike. This team, despite only being in its third varsity season, has shown vast improvements to its size, confidence and experience on the court. They are perhaps one of the most exciting teams to watch right now.

The Little Giants may have lost in three straight sets to Illinois Wesleyan University on January 17, but the poise, self-confidence and swagger exhibited from the six players on the court that day was evident to anyone sitting in the stands. It was impressive to say the least. 

Even when losing, the team remained calm and collected, and ended up rallying from six points down in the third set to bring the match back to 22-20. Wabash ultimately lost the set, ending the match, but their resilience and tenacity was commendable. 

Luke Davis ’24 spikes the ball against Illinois Wesleyan University on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at Chadwick Court. Photo by Elijah Greene ’25.

One of the main highlights of the match was the play at the net for Wabash. The frontcourt had multiple stellar blocks throughout the sets, showcasing the new height and skill brought on from both increased experience and freshman prowess.

Having now played two seasons in the MCVL, this team, chock-full of sophomores and juniors,  understands the stakes involved with competing in a tough Midwest-oriented volleyball conference.

“Last year, we only had one senior,” said Jackson Leeper ’25, one of the team’s middle blockers. “With that extra year of experience, the sophomores and juniors are feeling more confident. We know what our conference looks like playwise and we know what to expect.” 

This may sound cliché, but with only two seasons of experience in a new league, each and every match provides important context and builds the team’s database on what it takes to play at the collegiate level in the MCVL. And with experience comes skill. Leeper and the cohort of other returning players have played enough to get a feel for the level of competition in the league, and have risen up, literally, to the challenge.

 The combined might of Leeper, Patrick Volk ’26 and Micheal Enz ’26 at the net proved to be an issue for IWU hitters. Each of the three blocks that Wabash had against IWU came at critical moments and acted as a bolster to the team’s flagging spirits. Along with shifting the momentum, the team was ecstatic after each block, celebrating together and igniting the emotions of the sizable crowd at Chadwick Court. 

“The energy of the crowd was exhilarating, and I don’t think many of us were expecting that large of a turnout.”

Michael Enz ’26

As for the anticipation of the fast-approaching conference play, Leeper was cautiously optimistic about Wabash’s chances of placing well this season. 

“Obviously, we would like to be in the top four, because top four means we get to go into conference playoffs,” said Leeper.

Having never won more than two conference games in a single season, placing fourth in the conference would constitute a monumental improvement in record in a single year. 

“We’ve learned that the MCVL is a pretty competitive conference and being in it requires us to elevate our game,” said Will Beikes ’25, a setter for the Little Giants. 

Beikes, one of the returning starters from last year’s team, expressed his opinion on the team’s preparation for the upcoming conference slate.

“We’ve been working hard in practice and studying film in order for us to compete and really surprise some people this season,” said Beikes.

Wabash fans seem to be taking note of the team’s rapid rise. On January 17, 126 people attended the game against IWU, the second largest crowd ever to have attended a Little Giants volleyball match. And Wabash fans did what Wabash fans do best: supported their Little Giants enthusiastically and vocally. This support did not go unnoticed.

Michael Enz ’26 and Patrick Volk ’26 encourage each other against Illinois Wesleyan University on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at Chadwick Court. Photo by Elijah Greene ’25.

“The energy of the crowd was exhilarating, and I don’t think many of us were expecting that large of a turnout,” said Michael Enz ’26. “Though we lost, it was nice to see the crowd engaged throughout the match, giving us extra motivation.” 

This sort of unconditional support is a trait of Wabash fans the world over. Loyal to the end, I implore our fans to cheer on our boys as they look to push their own expectations and succeed, as all Wabash teams do, at their respective sports.

“I think any Wabash fan cheering in the stands, either home or away, will give our team an extra gear to fight and stay competitive when it matters most,” said Enz.

To Wabash: give this squad, our newest varsity sport, the spark and support that they are looking for. Their commitment and dedication to the sport that they love deserves no less commendation than any of our other winter sports. So be vocal, show up and continue to invigorate these plucky Little Giants.